October 2022 Book Recommendation

This is the book I picked for October because, you know, Halloween. And it has vampires and werewolves and soulless humans (?) and the typical mortal kind. And they’ve found a way to co-exist in Victorian England. Mostly.

Soulless by Gail Carriger a combination of urban fantasy, victorian, romance, steampunk and mystery. I’ve never read anything like it. I enjoyed it. Alexia Tarabotti is an outspoken, sarcastic delight. She may have no soul but she’d got character in spades. Though I have to admit I had to do some backtracking. That doesn’t necessarily bother me, especially if it’s a genre I don’t regularly read. And there was a lot going on in this story. And a lot of characters. And layered world building to sort through. It’s not for everyone but if you’re curious definitely give it a try.

Here’s a sneak peek at a book I’m writing which may or may not have a ghostly character.

Until next time…

What’s everyone else reading? Anything spooky?

September Book Recommendation

It’s been an interesting week. Canada is a Commonwealth country, and the Queen’s death has taken over news cycles, not just here, but around the world. Here in Canada, Monday has been declared a federal holiday by the Prime Minister, which means federal employees get the day off. Otherwise, individual provinces are responsible for statutory holidays for other workers. In Saskatchewan, Monday has been proclaimed September 19 as a Day of Mourning but otherwise it is off to work.

I guess now makes it a good time to have read a regency romance about a widow and a Marquess? How’s that for an awkward segue? To Have and to Loathe by Martha Waters is a delightfully witty read. Waters style reminds me of Emily Henry’s books. I have a bit of a nitpick though. I feel like the title is a bit of a mislead. These two do not loathe each other. I’m not sure they even dislike each other that much. They disagree and they bicker and it’s highly amusing but that’s not the same thing. As a big fan of the enemies to lovers trope, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, still worth the read for the dialogue alone. Just don’t expect any actual loathing. sigh. Also, not sure what that says about me…

Until next time…

Are you planning to watch the Queen’s funeral on Monday? I think I’ll pass. But I totally get why you might want to witness history.

August Book Recommendation

Well…it’s the middle of August. One sprained ankle and one bout of Covid later, I’m feeling almost myself again. On the bright side, the flowers are blooming, farmers’ markets are full of fresh produce, and the evenings are getting shorter. Perfect for sitting around the fire pit.

If you’re a fan of the Bachelorette, this book is for you. Even if you, like me, have never watch a single episode you might want to give it a chance. I’m not generally a fan of rom-coms. Or first person-point-of-view. But I really enjoyed this book.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London is full of heart with an intriguing cast of characters. If I’m being brutally honest, I can’t say as I ‘fell’ for any of the men, but I did fall for Bea Schumacher, a plus-size fashion blogger. I’ll pick up almost any book featuring a true plus-size heroine. Especially one who knows her own mind and who isn’t trying to lose weight. Hopefully, that trope is gone for good! Bea’s relationships with the men are messy, inspirational and vulnerable, and the author does an excellent job of debunking harmful and hurtful stereotypes.

Until next time…

Give me all your plus-size heroine/hero book recommendations, please!

July Book Recommendation

What’s summer without book recommendations? And I love recommending books. And I have no hesitation whatsoever about recommending Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Because I loved it!

Have you ever watched a Hallmark romance movie and wondered what happened to the cold-hearted, ambitious girlfriend ditched by her billionaire boyfriend after he fell in love the small town baker? Well, wonder no longer. Meet Nora Stephens. Her best heroine yet.

Books Lovers is full of Henry’s dry wit and way with dialogue. Oh my gosh, the witty repartee is so engaging. And funny. But so well done it doesn’t overtake or detract from the messy and complicated issues at the heart of a story that will tug at your heartstrings. There might not be a Christmas tree farmer in sight but there’s a book store in need of rescuing. And a hero you’ll fall in love with, just like the heroine.

Until next time…

Have you read any of Emily Henry’s other books? Do you have a book recommendation? Are you one of those who’s watching the Christmas in July movies on the Hallmark channel?

Book Talk Friday: The Golden Couple

More thoughts on books. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Published: St. Martin’s Press

Available: March 8, 2022

Length: 320 pages

Categories: Fiction / Psychological Thriller / Domestic Suspense / Suspense

The Blurb:

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.

My Thoughts:

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a domestic suspense story but I really enjoyed The Wife Between Us and I couldn’t wait for all the twists and turns this writing duo was sure to provide. I wasn’t disappointed. The story revolves around a marriage in trouble and an unconventional therapist. Few things are what they seem and a teetering tower of lies holds it all together.

Avery Chambers, a discredited therapist, promises to fix a client’s problem in ten sessions. Then the Bishops hire her to fix their marriage. She begins to change her mind once she gets to know them. They say all the right things but they have no interest in telling the truth. They reveal just enough of it to cover up the things they don’t want to be discovered. And Avery has other threats and problems to worry about. Somehow it all comes together in the end in with a bang.

This story makes very compelling reading. I couldn’t put it down.

Writing duos always fascinate me. I’m not sure how they do it. My approach is all over the place and I can’t imagine coherently explaining my thoughts well enough to co-author anything. Apparently, that wasn’t the problem for an interesting writing pairing about to release a book next Tuesday.

I’ll be reading this book. I won’t be able to resist the hype. The combination of Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton is to fascinating to resist and premise for State of Terror is very tempting.

Until next time…

I find domestic suspense, which often revolves around unreliable narrators and what is true and what is not, interesting reading. Having said that, I haven’t read one in awhile. What are your thoughts? I would love some Canadian author and Canadian setting recommendations.

Book Talk Friday: The Christie Affair

Heading into the weekend and sharing thoughts on books I’ve read. This week it’s The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. I was lucky enough to receive a ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) from Netgalley for review.

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Published: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: 02/01/2022

Length: 320 Pages

Catagories: Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Mystery / Agatha Christie Disappearance / Inspired by True Events

The Blurb:

n 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.

I’m no Hercule Poirot.

I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

My Thoughts:

I’m probably one of the only people who hadn’t realized Agatha Christie infamously disappeared early on in her career or that no one knows what happened during those eleven days. This book details one of many possibilities. While the title suggests it’s about the Christies, but it’s really a fictional account of Archie Christie’s mistress, Nan O’Dea, her involvement with the Christie family, and is an intriguing take on might have happened.

There are definitely many unexpected twists and turns in this book that spans Nan’s life from young girl, her life during the 1st World War, until she becomes involved with Archie Christie. It’s an interesting look at life pre and post WWI and the insecurities women faced during that uncertain time. I admired Nan, even though I didn’t much like her. The same goes for Agatha Christie’s character. I definitely wasn’t a fan of her husband.

But, though the concept was entertaining, I couldn’t get past the narrative style which often led to confusion. It was the first person narrative intrusion in scenes that Nan could know nothing of that put me off and pulled me out of the story. Having said that, what bugs one reader will entertain another. This book will definitely be worth checking out when it becomes available in early 2022.

Until next time…

Are you an Agatha Christie fan? Did you, unlike me, know she’d infamously gone missing? Maybe you’re a mystery bluff? What are some of your favourites?

Book Talk Friday: Fire In The Stars

Where I talk about books I’ve read and enjoyed. Especially if they’re written by a Canadian and set in Canada. This week I’m talking about Fire in the Stars: An Amanda Doucette Mystery by Barbara Fradkin.

Fire in the Stars: An Amanda Doucette Mystery by Barbara Fradkin

Published: Dundurn Press, 2016

Length: 328 pages

Categories: Mystery / Amateur Sleuths / Canadian Detectives / Canadian Setting

The Blurb:

After surviving a horrific trauma in Nigeria, international aid worker Amanda Doucette returns to Canada to rebuild her life and her shaken ideals. There, the once-passionate, adventurous woman needs all her strength and ingenuity when a friend and fellow survivor goes missing along with his son.

A trained first-aid and crisis responder, Doucette — always accompanied by her beloved dog Kaylee — joins forces with RCMP officer Chris Tymko to discover the truth about the disappearance. Their search leads them to the Great Northern Peninsula, a rugged landscape of Viking history, icebergs, whales, and fierce ocean storms. Elsewhere, a body gets hauled up in a fisherman’s net, and evidence is mounting of an unsettling connection with Amanda’s search for her friend. Fradkin writes evocatively of the beautiful, often hostile, Newfoundland landscape where Amanda soon finds herself fighting for her very survival.

My Thoughts:

Fire in the Stars is the first book in Fradkin’s Amanda Doucette mystery series. Amanda, an international aid worker, has returned to Canada to recover from the trauma she experienced during her time in Nigeria. She plans a camping holiday in Newfoundland with her friend and former co-worker. When she shows up, she finds he’s gone missing along with his young son. What follows is a search through parts of Newfoundland’s more remote areas with the help of RCMP officer, Chris Tymko.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this book and we get a real sense of the rugged and beautiful province of Newfoundland. Amanda is on a mission to find and help her friend, Phil, before the worst happens. This places her in several precarious situations as she’s always ready to wade into trouble. Almost too ready, as she took more and more chances. Some to the point of folly and against sound advice. The author makes it clear that Amanda was in the habit of making crucial decisions with few resources in her former job. Still…it became a bit frustrating.

There is a lot happening in this book. We are learning who Amanda is, what drives her and the lengths she’s willing to go to protect the people she cares about. Dog lovers will enjoy the antics of Kaylee, Amanda’s faithful canine companion. Amanda and Tim grow close as they search for their friend. And plenty of other secondary and minor characters show up. It’s a complicated plot. Bodies start to turn up and the situation continues to escalate. All the different things at play make for a confusing read at times.

Overall, I think it’s an interesting start to a series that will take Amanda across Canada, which is an intriguing concept. If you’re looking for an interesting Canadian setting, a daring amateur sleuth, and a mystery that isn’t the least bit cozy, I recommend giving the Amanda Doucette series a try.

Here is a map of Newfoundland and Labrador. Fire in the Stars takes place mainly on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland.

Other books set in Newfoundland.

Until next time…

Have you been to Newfoundland and Labrador? If you have, what is your favourite part of the province? It’s the only Canadian province I haven’t visited but I plan to some day!

The Bounty of August

August is my birthday month. Wave back if you’re also a Leo. Also true, I don’t read my horoscope. So, I don’t really know much about being a Leo…

I do know that August brings a fullness to the air that signals the end of summer. Flower pots are bursting with colour and gardens are producing. I don’t have a garden but I have a couple of vegetables planted amongst the flowers.

Fresh garden tomatoes are one of my very favourite things. This time of year always reminds me of growing up on a farm and harvest season, both in the field and in the garden.

And it’s all because of the bees.

We have leafcutter bees helping us out in our yard. The pre-built Pine Solitary Bee Barn (with Nesting Block & Larvae) is from Backyard Pollinator, a company that operates out of Imperial Saskatchewan. Jed and Kathy Williams are the sole owners of their alfalfa seed and leafcutter bee operation. 

Our daughter got the kit from her brother and sister-in-law for Christmas. We stored the bees in our garage fridge for the rest of the winter. Our son came in the middle of June to hang the house outside. We’ve had fun watching them go in and out. Leafcutter bees are great non-aggressive pollinators and the last image is proof the leafcutter bees are busy in our yard. You can tell by the careful cutouts in the leaves.

Many of the holes are now plugged, which means the bees have laid their larvea and filled the holes with leaves. At the end of summer we’ll take the nesting block out and put it in a cool spot until next summer.

Book Recommendation:

This is a great book full of inspiration and recommendations of the fabulous places this province has to offer locals and eager visitors.

Shortlisted for a 2021 Taste Canada Award and four 2021 Saskatchewan Book Awards

A robust and inspiring travel companion for both local and visiting food-lovers alike that reveals the stories, inspiration, and friendly faces of the people who craft great food in Saskatchewan.

From the province’s southern grain fields to its northern boreal forests, from its city markets to its small-town diners, Saskatchewan is the humble heartland of some of the nation’s most delicious food.

Author Jenn Sharp and photographer Richard Marjan spent four months travelling Saskatchewan, chatting at market stalls, in kitchens, bottling sheds, and stockrooms. Flat Out Delicious is the culmination of interviews with small-scale farmers and city gardeners, beekeepers and chocolatiers, ranchers, chefs, and winemakers. Together they tell the story of Saskatchewan’s unique food systems.

The journey is organized into seven regions (including a chapter each for restaurant hotbeds Regina and Saskatoon), with essays that delve deeper—into traditional Indigenous moose hunts, wild rice farming in the remote north, and berry picking in the south. There are profiles of over 150 artisans, along with detailed maps, travel tips, and stunning photography, making the book the ideal companion for a road trip that involves plenty of stopping to eat along the way.

You’ll meet a lettuce-grower who left a career in the city, and the small-town grad who worked his way up in the Saskatoon restaurant world; couples who are the first in their families to raise livestock, alongside new generations maintaining century-old operations. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or are Saskatchewan born and bred, prepare to be surprised by the abundance of personalities and culinary experiences to be found here in the land of living skies.

Until next time…

Are you a gardener? Do you love farmers markets? And all the beautiful food that this time of year produces?

Book Talk Friday: Beach Read

Where I talk about books that I’ve read and enjoyed because life is better with books. And summer is definitely better with books!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Published: Berkley, May 2020

Length: 384 pages

Categories: Women’s Fiction / Romance / Humour / Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.SEE LESS

My Thoughts:

January Andrews is suffering from writer’s block. She’s also broke. Grieving the loss of the father she thought she knew, she ends up in the last place she wants to be, the beach house her father left her. Even worse, she finds herself living next door to her college nemesis, Augustus Everett. Turns out he’s also suffering from writer’s block. When avoiding each other doesn’t work, they strike a deal. She’ll write a literary novel. And he’ll write a romance. And they’ll help each other through the process.

I worry when writers, who are not romance writers, write romance. I worry it won’t be a romance at all but an attempt to ‘elevate’ the genre. I also shy away from romances written in 1st person perspective. Just not my favourite perspective when it comes to romance. So, why did this book work for me? The chemistry between January and Gus is immediate. The dialogue is witty and funny and surprising. The writing is clever. January’s grief and sense of betrayal is heart wrenching. So, is Gus’s. Gus is delightfully swoon worthy in a guy-next-door kind of way. And January is quirky and real and just the right amount of over the top.

Also, this was an audio read for me and I have to say the narrator is amazing. Julia Whelan does a fantastic job. I can’t say enough about the great job she does. It’s the first time I’ve haven’t cringed when a narrator switches from a female to male character or vice a versa. I enjoyed her narration as much as I enjoyed Emily Henry’s writing.

This book is a great look at what happens when our egos fail us and the necessity of grieving. And what it looks like to find your way back and forward. Definitely recommend.

Until next time…

What beach reads have you savoured so far this summer? Any recommendations?